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Hello Poetry Lovers

Craft & Design Science
Hello Poetry Lovers

Announcing The Practical Pyromaniac Clerihew Contest

“Hello Poetry Lovers”

That was always the introduction to “Bullwinkle’s Corner,” a frequent segment of the 1960s cartoon, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. To this day, I still remember many of the poems Bullwinkle recited. Some of my favorite segments included “Wee Willie Winkie,” “Little Miss Muffet,” and umm, “I Love Little Pussy.”

To celebrate the publication of my new book, The Practical Pyromaniac, the Chicago Review Press (my publisher), is sponsoring a contest to see who can write the most creative Clerihew about fire, scientists, and similarly geeky subjects. For the budding poet, writer, or wise acre with a scientific bent, it’s a great opportunity for creativity!

Perhaps you’re wondering, just what in the world is a Clerihew and what does it have to do with the book?

Well, young Edmund Clerihew Bentley invented his eponymous, erratically metered, four line poems a century ago. Clerihews are more fun than limericks, and more useful than letter mnemonics for remembering things. The Practical Pyromaniac includes multiple clerihews, including this one about the famous English scientist, Sir Humphrey Davy:

Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
And lived in the odium
Of inventing sodium.

(That’s Sir Humphrey in the picture above, administering laughing gas, one of his many discoveries, at a party.)

For some reason, there have been quite a few written about famous scientists.

Sir James Dewar
Is smarter than you are.
None of you asses
Can liquefy gases.

Here’s one I made up.

Steven Hawking
Has trouble talking.
But in his mind,
The cosmos is defined.

Entering The Contest:

The rules for writing Clerihews are pretty simple:
1) It has four shortish lines of irregular length and meter.
2) The first two lines and the last two lines rhyme, at least sort of.
3) The first line contains, and in fact, may consist solely of, the subject’s name.Are there prizes? You bet!

One (1) first place winner will receive the Chicago Review Press DIY book pack (Absinthe & Flamethrowers, Backyard Ballistics, Miniweapons of Mass Destruction, and Unscrewed), a $25 gift certificate to, and a $25 gift certificate to Maker Shed.

One (1) second and one (1) third place winner will receive the Chicago Review Press DIY book pack.

To enter, compose your Clerihew and visit You’ll find an entry form and complete rules there.

Not too shabby, don’t you think? So get your pencils sharpened and get to writing.

2 thoughts on “Hello Poetry Lovers

  1. Adam Flaherty says:

    Bill, I have to say that I enjoyed your Hawking Clerihew immensely. Here’s one for you ;)

    Bill Gurstelle
    A Pyromaniac that does tell.
    Who’s Hawking Clerihew would find
    With E-Prime, refined.

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William Gurstelle is a contributing editor of Make: magazine. His new book, ReMaking History: Early Makers is now available.

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